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17 July 2017, 04:42 | Terri Saunders
Emirates, Flydubai Announce Closer Ties, But It's Not a Merger
Dubai-based giant Emirates Airline and local low-priced carrier (LCC) flydubai have announced an "extensive partnership agreement", including network and schedule coordination, although they will continue to be managed independently.
Marian Pistik, CEO at Aerotask, a global aviation consultancy firm, said it made sense for the airlines to work more closely together given the pressures they face and increasing duplication in their business.
In the fiscal year 2016/2017 which ended on March 31, Emirate posted an annual profit of 340 million US dollars, down 82.38 percent from 1.93 billion dollars last year "due to stronger dollar", said the carrier.
They are expected to reach 240 destinations and 380 aircraft by 2022, according to the announcement.
The new partnership will include joint network planning, coordinated schedules and the frequent flyer programmes will be aligned though both airlines will remain independently managed, the joint statement said.
"The new model will give flydubai customers seamless connectivity to Emirates' worldwide destinations spanning six continents. For Emirates' customers, it opens up flydubai's robust regional network", Emirates said, announcing the agreement on Jul. 17.
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An Emirates spokesperson declined to comment on whether plans would be hatched to construct an internal link between flydubai's hub Terminal 2 and Emirates' Terminal 3.
"Over the past years FlyDubai has gradually encroached on Emirates' market, both in terms of serving overlapping routes and upgrading its product by moving away from the strict low cost model", Pistik said.
"This partnership isn't about savings, it's about extracting commercial value by leveraging the strengths of both companies to accelerate growth", representatives from the airlines said.
The partnership will be rolled out over the coming months, with the first enhanced codesharing arrangements to start in the last quarter of this year. Together, the two carriers fly to 216 unique destinations, although this will increase under the partnership.
Emirates now operates 259 aircraft to 157 destinations, while Flydubai has a fleet of 58 Boeing 737 NG aircraft flying to 95 destinations.
Teams from Emirates and flydubai are now working on several initiatives spanning commercial, network planning, airport operations, customer journey, and frequent flyer programmes alignment.
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